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Showing posts from February, 2018

Liquormaggedon

Trip length: 16 minutes. Trip distance: 5.2 miles. Fare: $11.66. Year: 2018. Song of the trip: “Going The Distance” by Cake

Time's important in this one, so stay with me.

Through a long chain of events I don't want to bother to explain, I was in Newark (out by Oakland) as we were approaching bar close (2 a.m.), way outside of my normal zones. I tell you this simply so you understand that I don't know this area. Like, at all.

Over the years, I've cultivated a deep well of knowledge about most of the areas of the Silicon Valley, so I can answer questions about late night places to eat (especially after the bars are closed). People ask, and I deliver.

At least usually.

I pull up to pick up someone named Travis, and the clock reads 1:48 a.m. and I haven't even brought the car to a full stop before the guy is opening the back door of the car and hopping in. "Go go go!" he says.

I narrow my eyes for a moment and glance around looking to see if there are cops inco…

Don't Sully My Seats

Trip length: 54 minutes. Trip distance: 39.8 miles. Fare: $64.52. Year: 2016. Song of the trip: “Public Transportation” by Satchel Grande
I'd stopped up at Buster's Cheesesteaks on Broadway (best cheesesteaks in San Francisco by my reckoning) for a dinner break and was ready to get back to driving, so as soon as I got into my car and turned back online, there was already a fare popping up, about twelve blocks away.
The couple is waiting for me at Kearney & Clay. It's good that they're ready when I arrive, because it's a dangerous place to try and stop. Both streets tend to be full of traffic, they're both one-way, they're both perpetually under construction and, most importantly, nobody wants to wait for you to pick up or drop off passengers. There's no shoulder or bike lane to pull into for just a few seconds to let someone get in or out, so there's inevitably people honking if you're stopped for more than fifteen seconds, any time, day or n…

The Run Around (And Around And Around)

Trip length: 48 minutes. Trip distance: 19.9 miles. Fare: $34.18 Song of the trip: "Where Are You Going" by Dave Matthews

This happened years ago, but it's a fun story to tell you none the less. But there are a couple of things that are important to understand about the time we were in when this story takes place. This was before Orange 45 became the dictator of the U.S., before tipping was allowed through the Uber app. Let's call it three years ago.

One of the most common questions I get as an Uber driver has always been "Is it true you don't know where you're driving a passenger until they get into the car?" In the last few months, Uber's implemented a feature to notify a driver when a request is a trip over 45 minutes, so that drivers who don't want to get too far out of their home can pass on fares that might take them to, say, San Francisco from San Jose. We didn't have that feature back when this story happened.

(Mind you, we drive…

The Map Says You're Here

Trip length (pool): 19 minutes / 28 minutes. Trip distance (pool): 7.7 miles / 9.1 miles. Fare (pool): $19.55 / $21.88 (3.5x Surge) Song of the trip: "Mountains" by Biffy Clyro

So most New Year's, I only get one truly memorable story. This year, however, it's a Blue Light Special, and you get two for the price of one. (You are paying me for this, yeah?) Just after I dropped off the people who may or may not have been Russian gangsters that I told you about before, I got a call from someone who needed to go back down to Los Gatos. They were forgettable, but right after that, I found myself in the fortunate spot of being in downtown Los Gatos just ten minutes after bar close.

Drivers have mixed feelings about Los Gatos. Sometimes you can hang around and there is the very definition of nothing going on and you'll have wasted half an hour. Others, Los Gatos Bar & Grill (or one of the three or four other places to drink late in downtown Los Gatos) has some kind of…

Not Confession

Trip length: 24 minutes. Trip distance: 8.4 miles. Fare: $38.47 (2.2x surge). Song of the trip: "Disappear" by INXS

Some people think that driving on New Year's is a guaranteed way for a rideshare driver to make a ton of cash, and while that used to be true years ago, the last few years it has been nothing less than an utter shitshow, with people going out of their way to be on their worst behavior. Add that into the fact that it's the night you're most likely to be hit by a drunk driver. Considering that fares (surge pricing especially) has gone down a lot, I know a lot of other drivers have just given up on driving on the night at all, citing that it isn't worth the hassle.

Me, I need the money, sadly.

It's been busy, but not exceptionally so, just like a typical weekend night, but I glanced at my trip history and not one person has tipped thusfar tonight, and I'm starting to consider just packing it in and heading home. Of course, it's coming …